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The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn Paperback – May 28, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This first novel supposes that Anne Boleyn, second wife to King Henry VIII of England, kept a secret diary that was delivered to her daughter, Elizabeth, upon her succession to the throne. Elizabeth was only three when Anne was renounced by Henry, tried for treason, and sentenced to death. Now, despite her queenly schedule, juggling affairs of state and heart, Elizabeth finds time to read her mother's story avidly and learns lessons that will secure her reign. It is an intriguing premise that knowledge of Anne's sad fate leads Elizabeth resolutely to defy the customs of her time and ignore her advisers' counsel and her suitors' pleas to marry. Remaining single and healthy, Elizabeth rules long and well. Filled with fascinating descriptions of court life and references to historical figures and events, this novel is highly recommended for fiction collections.?Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An energetic, full-dress period novel, Maxwell's first, constructed from the adventures of Henry VIII's doomed second queen, mother of Elizabeth I of England. Here, a recently crowned Elizabeth finds her dead mother's diary, discovering not only a legacy of maternal love but the idea that Virgin Queens should stay that way. The story blasts off with a Tudorian ``God's death!'' roared by Elizabeth, but Maxwell doesn't generally weigh the narrative down with archaisms. The dutifully noted battles and political skirmishes of the great powers don't interfere with the upward strides (and missteps) of that peppery commoner, Anne Boleyn. Educated in a French court, and later in England, serving Henry's royal-born Queen Katherine, Anne, to her amazement (and greedy father's delight), is pursued by the King (``He loomed so large, those blue and laughing eyes so bright''). Having been separated from the man she really loved, Anne daringly keeps Henry in courtly pursuit--but out of bed--for six years. Meantime, Henry, determined to change queenly partners, uproots his allegiance to the Pope and creates an English church. The King and Anne marry, but now that the Unattainable has become a marital captive--and a queen unable to produce a son--Henry's frustrations (and desires) prod him to turn elsewhere. Death by execution in the Tower will cut short a life in which the stakes and odds were sky-high. Years later, Elizabeth finds in her mother's diary a pointed message: ``Never relinquish control to any man.'' Those fascinated by the Tudors--those magnificent, truly terrifying political animals--may find the characterizations and the language occasionally too modern. But Anne's straight-from-the- stomacher confessions, and Elizabeth's thundering about, should appeal to all fanciers of imagined portraits of Tudor-era heroines, like the late Eleanor Hibbert's (a.k.a. Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Jean Plaidy) gallery of royal queens. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Scribner Paperback edition (May 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684849690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684849690
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robin Maxwell began writing novels about the historical figures she had been obsessing about since graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Her first novel, "The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn," now in its 24th printing, won two YA awards and has been translated into fourteen languages. "The Wild Irish" - an epic tale of Ireland's rebel queen, Grace O'Malley - closed out her Elizabethan Quartet, and is now in development for a television series. "Signora Da Vinci" and "Jane: The Woman Who loved Tarzan" are tales of the remarkable women behind two of the world's most beloved wildmen - Maestro Leonardo and Lord Greystoke. Robin lives with her husband of thirty years, Max Thomas, at High Desert Eden, a wildlife sanctuary in the Mojave Desert.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 89 people found the following review helpful By *TUDOR^QUEEN* on March 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As an avid reader of Tudor biographies with a particular fascination for Queen Anne Boleyn, I approached this historical fiction novel with some skepticism. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed! Not only was it factually accurate, but the best read on Anne Boleyn I've had. This novel is premised on the idea that Anne Boleyn kept a diary from the inception of her romance with King Henry VIII up until the day before her execution. This diary was discreetly given to Anne's daughter Queen Elizabeth I shortly after her coronation. Most of the book is comprised of the chronological diary excerpts, which I ravenously devoured. Robin Maxwell captured the language pattern of these Medieval times so magnificently. As I read Anne Boleyn's heartfelt thoughts it was a most intimate and poignant experience. I fought back tears reading Anne's tender words for the daughter she would never live to see grow up. This fictional but authentically presented diary gives the reader a personal and unique forum to experience this royal tragedy.
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90 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Margaret P Harvey on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book attempts at going beyond the facts and trying to explore the feelings, emotions and ambitions of people that lived more than four HUNDRED years ago. While historically inaccurate, I found this book to offer something beyond Alison Weir or Antonia Frasier's stellar, but heavily factual, interpretations. If you want to explore with an open mind the story of what could have happened, then read this book. My only beef with this book had to be the awkward love trysts of both Elizabeth and Anne. These passages about the love making of both queens is out of place and unnecessary at best. Also the constant references to Anne Boleyn's sixth finger, a myth that is slightly possible and mostly unlikely, is annoying. Do not read this book if you are expecting a high brow look at the facts, or even a high brow look at this era. But for a little bit of guilty pleasure in believing this is how it was, this (slightly fantastical) version of the story makes everything just tie up so nicely, that you almost want to believe that there was a diary, and that Anne Boleyn did have contact with Elizabeth I beyond the grave. The reviews for this book so far have all been very true, the bad and the good, because the truth is that this book creates mixed feelings. Try it out, but don't buy it until you know that you are ready for something a little different.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bill Kummerow on September 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Much has been made about the man who defied the Church, took its rich lands, and changed a nation's faith. But what do we know about the woman who made it all happen? Robin Maxwell give the reader a rare glimpse of not only the lady of the court who kept a king's lust at bay for six years to get the crown, but her daughter Queen Elizabeth as well.
What worked so well with this novel, were not necessarily Anne's diary entries, but her daughter's reaction to them. Elizabeth is a headstrong woman of considerable wit and charm, growing up not knowing her mother, and coming of age as an unmarried queen in a patriarchal society. Through her mother's diary she learns not only her past, but learns how to shape her future, and ultimately her country's future as well.
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn does an excellent job of personalizing the much maligned second wife of King Henry VIII. Her domineering father, gold bricking sister, and loyal brother all shape the Anne that wins the heart of a monarch. Her diary chronicles her history that shapes the woman that would be queen, and as her unfortunate inability to birth a prince, her tragic demise culminates on the scaffold. Robin Maxwell portrays the proud Queens of England, both Anne and Elizabeth, with grace and honesty.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sires on August 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
The recent announcement of the first public display of a ring worn by Queen Elizabeth I caught my eye. The interesting thing about the ring is a secret compartment containing a portrait of Anne Boleyn. This lent my reading of this book about the relationship between the memory of Anne Boleyn and the life of Elizabeth I a certain poignancy it might not have otherwise had. What this ring suggests is that Elizabeth treasured the memory of her mother but knew that it could not be given public expression due to the circumstances surround Anne Boleyn's death. This is pure speculation, the real reason that Elizabeth had the ring cannot be known. But this author does try to recreate the story as it might have been.
I found myself reading this book not as a fictional recitation of historical events, but as the story of a dysfunctional family and how the actions of one generation affect the next. The author uses the relationship between Anne and Henry VIII to explain why Elizabeth made some of her early choices with regard to matrimony. I've seen this same theory expounded by other writers but Maxwell does a very good job by interpolating Anne Boleyn's diary entries with events in Elizabeth's life.
Even if you do know the story of Elizabeth's life, this version is worth reading.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful By D. Greer on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
If Barbara Cartland is your idea of a great novelist, please, buy this book. All other individuals with any vague knowledge of the Tudor family will find this book painful. It reeks of bad dime-store romance prose. Search for a history book instead. ANY history book on the Tudors will suffice. It will be far more interesting and much less irritating.
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